A couple months ago we visited the Tampa Electric Company Manatee Viewing Center in Apollo Beach, which is pretty close to us. It's completely free and only open during the winter months.
It was kind of cool to see the electric plant. I had never been so close to one before. It's massive and mesmerizing.
The canal next to the plant is winter home to manatees. We saw a bunch, estimating over forty, including moms and babies.
It was a cold day, which was perfect, because the manatees swam into the canal to escape the cold ocean. The canal is brackish and pretty murky, so we could only see the manatees when they surfaced to breathe, which made it hard to count them.
It was fun to walk around the boardwalk.
The boardwalk stretches out toward the bay through a beautiful mangrove forest.
The mangrove tunnel was my favorite part of the whole experience.
Look how magical!
It was a fun, little morning activity. There's not a whole bunch of things to do there, but we learned some interesting things about manatees, like their ancestor the Stellar Sea Cow was hunted to extinction in 1768, only 27 years after being discovered. There were lots of educational exhibits.
I recommend this as a free, fun, family activity!